Being involved in an accident with a tractor trailer or other large commercial truck can be one of the scariest events of your life. When you feel the force of tens of thousands of pounds of metal careening out of control, you realize just how helpless you are to protect yourself out on the road.
For obvious reasons, commercial truck accidents often result in substantial property damage and severe traumatic injuries. If you were recently involved in a commercial truck accident in Chicago, here are some of the key pieces of information you need to know:
Numerous factors can cause and contribute to commercial truck accidents, and this means that numerous parties can potentially be to blame. In order to determine who is liable for your injuries, it will be necessary to conduct a thorough investigation, and the investigation should ideally be undertaken as soon as possible. In fact, aside from seeking medical attention for your injuries, hiring a law firm to conduct an investigation should be your top priority after a commercial truck accident in Chicago.
Depending upon what the investigation reveals, parties that could potentially be liable for your injuries include:
When you are injured in any type of accident, obtaining treatment for your injuries needs to be your first priority. Since securing compensation for a truck accident takes time, you can (and generally should) rely on your health insurance coverage to the extent that it is available. While your health insurer may eventually be entitled to repayment if your personal injury claim is successful, this is a matter for the insurance companies (and your attorneys) to deal with later – not for you to worry about right now.
The amount of financial compensation you are eligible to recover will depend on a variety of factors, the most important of which are the nature and extent of your physical injuries. Under Illinois law, truck accident victims are entitled to seek just compensation for the financial and non-financial effects of their injuries, including past and future medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life. While every case is unique, and while the outcome of a case is never guaranteed, individuals who have suffered severe traumatic injuries in truck accidents will often be entitled to sizable financial awards.
If multiple drivers (or other parties) were at fault in the accident, then each may have an obligation to compensation you for your losses from the collision. Typically, this will mean dealing with each party’s insurance company to establish liability and determine how much each company will contribute to your overall award of compensation.
If the evidence suggests that you were partially at fault in the accident, the effect on your claim will depend upon your percentage of fault. Under Illinois law, if you were 50% or less at fault, you are still entitled to compensation, although your award would be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault (i.e. if you were 10% at fault, you would be entitled to recover 90% of your losses). However, if you were 51% or more at fault, then you would not be entitled to any compensation under Illinois law. With the potential for just 1% to be a difference between a sizable payment and collecting nothing for your injuries, it is absolutely essential to have an experienced attorney fighting on your behalf.
As you can see from the information above, there are numerous differences between truck accident cases and “ordinary” auto accident insurance claims. Another notable difference is that, in truck accident cases, the trucking and shipping companies’ defense lawyers will often get involved and fight vigorously to avoid any liability for their clients. In order to level the playing field, you need to have an experienced legal team on your side.
Due to the high stakes involved, truck accident cases are more likely to go to trial than cases involving two passenger vehicles. However, most cases still settle; and, with experienced representation, you will have a reasonable chance of securing a high-value settlement without the need to ever set foot in court. That said, if going to court is your best option (i.e. if the trucking company or the truck driver’s insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement), then you will need to be prepared to go to trial to win the compensation you deserve.
The first step toward deciding what to do about your vehicle is to get an estimate from an independent appraiser (not one recommended to you by the insurance companies). If your vehicle is capable of being repaired, then you should be able to drop it off fairly soon. If it was totaled in the accident, then you should be provided with the funds you need to buy a new car. This can be a tricky area to navigate, and our attorneys and staff members can help you through the process.
Being told that you will never fully recover can be devastating. Sadly, this is a reality for many victims of commercial truck accidents. If you are facing the prospect of living the rest of your life with the effects of a traumatic injury, calculating your future losses (including medical expenses, loss of future earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other non-financial losses) will be absolutely essential to ensuring that you are fully compensated.
Yes, absolutely. While there are a number of reasons why, the simplest reason is that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by hiring an experienced attorney. If you try to deal with the trucking companies and their defense lawyers on your own, your claim is likely to go nowhere, and you will not have any idea of the amount you are entitled to recover. By hiring an attorney, you can put yourself on a level playing field, and you can make sure that you do not unknowingly settle for far less than you deserve.
At Malman Law, we represent all of our truck accident clients on a contingency-fee basis. This means that you pay nothing unless we win just compensation. To discuss your case in a free and confidential consultation, please call 888-626-6265 or contact us online today.